Review: ‘Boeing, Boeing’ at Millbrook Playhouse
MILL HALL – Fasten your seat belts. There’s turbulence ahead as “Boeing, Boeing” continues its landings on the Millbrook Playhouse stage. The high-flying farce has 7:30 p.m. performances tonight through Sunday in the downstairs Cabaret.
The turbulence is caused by an American architect’s juggling of a trio of flight attendants whom he dines and beds in his Paris apartment while they are “laying over.”
The international stewardesses’ schedules allow the likable cad to play house, whisking one in and out of his pad without any of the three knowing about the others. Oh yes, each sports the same-looking engagement ring as Barnard’s one-and-only, ever-loving finance.
Chaos erupts once faster jets are introduced, throwing off the timetable for the stewardesses’ arrivals at the nearby Orly Airport.
The two-act farce opens with the unexpected arrival of Richard, one of the architect’s chums, a naive nerdy fellow from Wisconsin, who is immediately drafted to help Bernard and his live-in domestic keep the girls from being in his apartment at the same time.
Marc Camoletti’s farce runs two and a half hours. Act I is relatively slow-paced with lots of exposition, but “Boeing, Boeing” takes off in Act II with one calamity following another, as doors slam and slapstick produces loads of belly laughs.
Ken Kaissar, who directed Millbrook’s “The Sound of Music” earlier this summer, gives fast and sometimes furious direction to the cast of six who cavort all over the small Cabaret stage.
Bernard’s apartment, with minimal furnishings, has six doors and an arch leading to the outside, with the half-dozen doors side-by-side, almost calling for the Main Stage.
A brightly colored painted outline of Paris forms the interior, covering the doors and walls for a cartoonish-looking set.
Heading the cast are Zach McCoy as Bernard, the lustful architect, and Joseph McGranaghan as the bumpkin Richard. Although McCoy is the thrice-engaged Romeo, it is Richard who is onstage more than his buddy as he tries to thwart off the inevitable. There’s obvious good chemistry between these conspirators, which may be a carryover from McCoy’s and McGranaghan’s roles in Millbrook’s 2008 production of “The Foreigner.”
Now the director switches gender in the role of Berthe. Frank Franconeri enters early on in the French Maid’s outfit, much to the delight of the opening night audience.
Although Berthe may be played with understatement, Franconeri chews up the scenery (if there was any) playing the grumpy domestic with bravado.
Berthe acts as Bernard’s air traffic controller for the three stewardesses who each have their own culinary demands.
Alex Sunderhaus plays the American, Gloria, flying for TWA, with Connie Castanzo as the fiery Italian Gabriella, flight hostess for Atitalia, and Oakley Boycott playing the authoritative German, Gretchen, stewardess for Luftansa Airlines.
Each play their stereotyped caricatures with zestful over-the-top acting, especially Oakley Boycott – she swears that is not a stage name – towering over the Richard when booming her guttural orders.
The trio each has good-looking, 60s-styled wigs, colorful stewardess outfits and matching flight bags.
The show’s pivotal character is Richard, as the show’s funniest moments are between Richard and Gretchen, Richard and Gloria, and Richard and Bernard at the end. Watch out when he utters the magic words, “It’s not impossible.”
“Boeing, Boeing,” which won the 2008 Tony Award as “Best Revival of a Play” is currently a popular choice for professional and community theater groups. (Community Theatre League will have “Boeing, Boeing” land in Williamsport in the upcoming season.)
If anyone is looking for subtlety, look in the dictionary – you won’t find it in “Boeing, Boeing.” But Millbrook audiences will find an idiotic storyline, good physicality and a top-notch cast.
First-class seats may be booked at the box-office by calling 748-8083 or by visiting www.millbrookplayhouse.org.